Note: Over the next few weeks, I'll occasionally be flagging nuggets from my new book, The Same Thing Over and Over, just out from Harvard University Press. For more, check out the book on Amazon. Teacher unions insist that it would be something akin to the end of Western Civilization should we venture to pay history teachers more than gym teachers, or math and science teachers more than history teachers. As Bob Chase, then-president of the NEA, said a few years back in USA Today, "Please don't distract us with ill-considered half measures, such as paying math and science teachers ...


On Tuesday, five of my favorite state education chiefs launched a new outfit called "Chiefs for Change" (CFC) at Jeb Bush's Excellence in Action National Summit. The five: Louisiana's Paul Pastorek, Indiana's Tony Bennett, Florida's Eric Smith, Rhode Island's Deb Gist, and Virginia's Gerard Robinson. In a "Roadmap to Excellent Education" that's being released a bit later today, the five embrace six principles of reform: • Recruit, Reward, and Retain Excellent Teachers and Leaders • Reward Excellence • Replace Failure with Success • High Academic Standards • Transparent and Rigorous Accountability • Viable Options for All Students Nothing here that readers of RHSU haven't seen many ...


Enough already. I'm a big fan of Boston's Pioneer Institute. But Pioneer, abetted by some of Massachusetts's local papers, has gone after Massachusetts's terrific state chief Mitch Chester in a ludicrous, destructive exercise--one that should be called off ASAP. (Full disclosure: I've known Chester for a decade and advised, albeit modestly, on the state's winning Race to the Top application.) What's the story? Boston's Channel 5 reported recently that outside groups, most notably the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and Achieve, Inc., picked up the tab for Chester's business travel for conferences, meetings, and such to places including ...


Well, official word came Monday that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has stumbled into a truly ludicrous solution to the "who will succeed Joel Klein" question. He put forward publishing executive Cathie Black--without ever really explaining why her skills or experience equip her to run NYC's hyper-political $20 billion-a-year school system--only to get slammed by community backlash and doubts about her suitability. State law required that Black, given her lack of credentials, get a waiver from New York State Commissioner David Steiner if she was to head the school system. Steiner used the opportunity to convene an advisory panel, ...


Albert Einstein reportedly once said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." As I note in my new book, The Same Thing Over and Over: How School Reformers Get Stuck in Yesterday's Ideas, apocryphal or not, this line is a devastating assessment of a half century's worth of school reform. To avoid educational insanity, we need to recognize how circumstances have changed and embrace a diverse array of reform efforts suited to the twenty-first century. A year ago, my friend Diane Ravitch raised a furor when she charged in The ...


Got some terrific reactions to last week's post, which argued (shockingly) that a dollar spent on special education is one we can't spend on other children--and that policymakers would therefore do well to focus less on "rights" and more on trade-offs. This is doubly true given that the primary challenge for children with special needs today is one of quality rather than access, and that there's good reason to question whether vast special ed outlays are delivering on that score. Three takes particularly worth sharing. The first is from a principal who commented on RHSU: As the principal of a ...


The problems with unaffordable, anachronistic teacher pensions have finally started to get the attention they should've gotten years ago. Andy Rotherham recently wrote a terrific column laying the issue out, and some of the new Republican governors—most prominently Rick Snyder, the former Gateway executive who was just elected Michigan's governor—have signaled they're going to confront pensions head-on. Snyder has flat-out said that he doesn't think Michigan's system of public employee compensation is affordable. Newly elected GOP governors John Kasich in Ohio and Scott Walker in Wisconsin have sounded similar notes—making Chris Christie's no-nonsense stance with New Jersey's...


A couple months back, I posted a copy of an internal Houston Federation of Teachers (HFT) memorandum which laid out the HFT's hostility towards the Houston Independent School District's (HISD) mentoring proposal. You think the HFT was chastened at all by this going public? Doesn't appear so. Below is another, much more recent HFT communication to its members blasting HISD's effort to revamp its teacher evaluation system in collaboration with the highly regarded organization The New Teacher Project (TNTP). A Houston source was kind enough to send this along. I especially like the calls for secret tapings and the suggestion ...


Question: What do Arne Duncan, Sarah Palin, Tom Harkin, and Mike Enzi all have in common? Answer: They, along with just about every other figure in education, turn into pandering sops the moment somebody mentions special education or IDEA. They'll dwell on how the feds need to fully fund their share, the rights of these families, and the need to do a better job of identifying and addressing special needs. All fair enough points. The problem is that none of our leaders can then bring themselves to utter the simple truth: "But we have an obligation to serve all our ...


Mayor Michael Bloomberg has named former USA Today publisher and Hearst Magazines chief Cathie Black as the next chancellor of the New York City schools. The move prompted the predictable outrage among those who believe that only former teachers should lead schools or districts. Patrick Sullivan, a New York City Board of Education member, wrote to State Education Commissioner David Steiner, slamming Black for lacking teaching and administrative experience, academic credentials in education, public sector experience, and exposure to public schooling. Julie Cavanagh, a special ed. teacher in Brooklyn, said, "To not have an educator at the helm as the ...


The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Follow This Blog

Advertisement

Most Viewed on Education Week

Categories

Archives

Recent Comments